Poems of Mi Fu
Among the clouds, an iron urn appears against the sky
Tethered to a misty tower, one hundred feet below.
The roar of the Three Gorges flows down from my brush,
While for six days, bright sails' shadows pass across my winejar.
How many times have barbarian horns sounded in the sunset?
There is no reason for white smoke to rise over our land.
Suddenly, it warms my heart to remember where I am
Even if its beauty all is fading.
Some background. Mi Fu is writing in the Song dynasty. The north is being conquered by the Jin, or Jurchen "barbarians," who are not all that barbaric. The south (this is north and south of the Yangzi River) is still held by the "true Chinese" who are too weak to fight and too fat to run. They end up being subjected but not exactly conquered by the Jin. Much hand-wringing takes place among the Southern gentry.
So, Mi Fu is up in a tower, on the Yangzi near the Three Gorges, and brooding. He apparently broods for six days before his brush disgorges this poem, along with the roar of the actual gorges. The first verse is a bit trippy and reminds me of a poem or two of Xue Tao, where she is apparently doing magic mushrooms. If 飞楼 was actually a flying tower and not simply "tall tower," I would suspect mushrooms here. But the iron urn is probably a reference to something and Mi Fu is, at worst, on a six-day drunk. At best, moody and hung-over. Either one is a rational, if impotent, response to the cultural disaster of his times.